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A&A: The Adventures of Archer & Armstrong #9

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By Rafer Roberts, Mike Norton, Ryan Lee, Allen Passalaqua

A&A #9 is a whole lot of fun. This book strikes the right balance between wackiness and seriousness as it explores the duo’s latest adventure and the circumstances of some of the title’s subsidiary characters.

Kicking off a new arc, A&A #9 picks up the storyline of the heroes’ quest to find Armstrong’s long lost wife, Andromeda. Yes, that Andromeda. This story continues the overarching theme exploring the fate of ancient gods and goddesses in modern times.

Writer Rafer Roberts brings his trademark offbeat humor to the table, giving us one of the most enjoyable A&A’s yet. From the opening sequence, which is truly out of this world to clever inclusion of disturbing news trends, this book offers several laugh-out-loud moments. In some regards, A&A fills the humor gap left by the absence of Quantum & Woody, but Roberts counters absurdity with soberness, keeping the book from becoming too over-the-top. Mary-Marie’s dire situation is an excellent example of this balance. As seen in the previous issue, she is in the midst of a war with her former organization. Her counter-moves and her struggle to keep her followers alive are treated earnestly with sprinkles of light humor interwoven. Even Mike Norton’s storytelling art follows suit, conveying a more straight-forward interpretation and less quirky characterizations. Archer and Armstrong’s narrative, however, embraces farcical humor to tell a grander story despite the potentially catastrophic events. Roberts is having fun with his story, ridiculing current events and headlines, but cleverly including them in the story’s plot. There is a silliness to the story (even Armstrong expresses frustration at it), but it is palatable thanks to the intelligence underlying it all. Best of all, readers won’t see this story coming.

Artists Mike Norton and Ryan Lee illustrated the book, with Lee creating the extraordinary introductory piece narrated by Andromeda. Lee has done several covers for Valiant, but this marks his first time creating interiors. His stunning sequence harkens back to classic science fiction, complete with a sense of adventure and the danger of the unknown. It’s an imaginative take and an excellent fit for Roberts’ story. Aided by Allen Passalaqua’s colors, the sequence maintains a uniqueness from the present day story by instilling a feeling that you’re reading an old story, thanks to the solid yet “aged” colors and the parchment tones of the “paper” behind the panels.

Mike Norton pencils the present day storyline, encompassing the majority of the book. His visual storytelling is excellent, making the panels easy to navigate and digest. He accentuates the preposterousness of the story when called for, and his interpretation of Roberts’ headline news adds greatly to the humor. Passalaqua colors this main story in brighter, clearer tones than in the introduction, giving the story a visual pop that echoes the more light-hearted tone of the book.

Expect the unexpected with A&A #9. Delightfully goofy and imaginative, this new arc and jumping-on-point has plenty up its sleeves for readers. Embrace the odd. Don’t miss out on this stranger-than-fiction story.

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